Protest Planned For Green Bay Prison: ‘That Building Should Be Some Type Of Historic Site’

Green Bay Correctional Institution Is 123 Years Old

The Green Bay Correctional Institution
The Green Bay Correctional Institution. Chad Davis (CC-BY)

A demonstration planned for Saturday will call attention to conditions at Green Bay Correctional Institution in Allouez.

Organizers say the protest will include a march to the prison, where they will read letters from people currently incarcerated there. ABOLISHmke and the Party for Socialism and Liberation-Milwaukee are spearheading the event, which is part of a national mobilization effort by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak that runs Aug. 21 to Sept. 9.

Segdrick Farley, 41, spent 12 years at the facility. He plans to travel from Eau Claire for the demonstration.

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“There are human beings in there. We have fathers and grandfathers, uncles, aunts. People in prison are human beings,” he said. “Sometimes we need to look into the conditions because some of these people return back into society, and the way they return to society should be better than they were when they went in.”

The state prison opened in 1898. Farley’s arms could span the width of his cell, he said, and the plumbing and heating were old and outdated. There was little ventilation, he said. He said he has a lot of difficult memories from his time there.

“I said one day if I ever get out, people will hear about it,” Farley said. “I left a lot of people behind there, and I feel it’s my duty to do that.”

The facility’s shortcomings were listed in a report released last year by the Wisconsin Department of Administration. Site visits began in the summer of 2018 and lasted a year.

According to the document, the plumbing and HVAC infrastructure at the prison was nearing the end of its “useful life.” Parts of the facility don’t have fire sprinklers, and the cells are smaller than industry recommendations for one person — though the report indicates that many housed two.

“That building should be some type of historic site or something,” Farley said.

Needs outlined in the report include a new health services building, and improvements to the temperature control, plumbing and steam distribution systems.

The DOC has begun more than 30 projects at the prison since 2015, ranging “from boiler and steam plant repairs to sewage line replacements, to fire alarm system upgrades,” an agency representative said by email.

Renovations underway now in the north and south cell halls should improve ventilation and plumbing issues, the agency said, adding it’s spent $29 million on facility improvements since 2014.

“Evaluation and planning for eventual replacement” is needed for the prison in Green Bay, as well as for Waupun Correctional Institution, according to the report. A DOC representative said the report doesn’t recommend the facilities should be shut down, but it outlines the agency’s options moving forward.

However, state Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, said it’s clear the facility is beyond repair.

“I was really hoping that Gov. Evers would start a real step forward on prison reform by closing (it),” he said. “We just haven’t been able to make that happen, and it’s very disappointing.”

“Tough on crime” laws passed under previous governors have contributed to overcrowded corrections facilities and wear and tear on buildings, according to the DOC. But it says the population in custody has decreased during the pandemic.

Editor’s note: The report referenced in this article was released by the Department of Administration. This article previously said it was released by the Department of Corrections.